Laser Sintering and EDM: Complementary Processes?

An EDM machine from GF AgieCharmilles proves effective in separating laser-sintered parts from their base plate.

The picture shown above depicts an application that might soon make its U.S. debut, depending on the market's interest, according GF AgieCharmilles. It depicts the company's FW 20 wire EDM-currently available only in Asiabeing employed as a cut-off system to remove golf ball molds from their base plate.
These molds, shown as part of this demonstration at the Agie Charmilles LLC "Technology Days" event in late June in Lincolnshire, Illinois, were produced on a laser sintering machine from German firm EOS. In that process, a laser solidifies powder metal material layer by layer to build a finished part. Of course, the part must then be separated from the base plate from which it was built. So, why not use a standard saw for such applications?
That would, GF AgieCharmilles admits, be quicker than a wire EDM. However, the company contends that the EDM machine produces a straighter cut and eliminates the need for secondary milling operations. Additionally, the machine can perform tapered cuts.
However, accuracy and the ability to create a taper aren't the greatest advantages of this particular machine. As shown below, the molybdenum wire isn't stored in a typical EDM spool. Rather, the wire continually re-circulates via a drum that essentially operates like a winch. Recycling previously used wire in this way can result in significant cost savings, the company says.
If your company uses laser sintering or other processes to produce parts that require accurate cut-off operations, you might want to keep an eye out for the FW 20. GF AgieCharmilles says it plans to evaluate U.S. demand for such a machine and possibly market it here.